April 22, 2024


Free For All Food

Italian foods maker approved for facility at Millville industrial park

MILLVILLE – A Bridgeton-based Italian foods manufacturer will open its second processing and storage facility on a 44-acre section of the city’s James R. Hurley Industrial Park near the airport, giving the park its first occupant since it opened almost a decade ago.

Agriterra LLC is owned by Vineland resident Paul L. Infranco, who also is president of family owned Buona Vita Inc. in Bridgeton.

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The city Planning Board on Monday night unanimously approved the building plan for Agriterra. The company initially will employ 56 people with two production shifts, five days a week.

“We’re a manufacturer of Italian food products, specializing in meatballs, meatloaf, sausage, and pizza toppings,” Infranco testified at the virtual hearing. “The purpose of the second facility to be located in Millville is to expand our operation into a pizza topping operation.”

In addition to the main building, at 53,800 square feet, the project includes a facility to pre-treat wastewater before discharging it into the municipal sewer system. That “wet room” feature of the plan was critical to getting city support for it because of concerns about putting stress on the municipal system.

Hurley Industrial Park opened in June 2011 off Bogden Boulevard and Dividing Creek Road with about 300 acres available for development. Millville has come close several times in recent years to landing businesses only to see the projects dropped for various reasons.

In 2019, Italian foods manufacturer Rovagnati USA pulled out of a similarly sized land purchase. It instead decided to open its United States operation at a Vineland industrial property.

Oddly, it was a lengthy discussion over whether to require putting bike paths along the Agriterra property that surfaced the Rovagnati withdrawal.

Chairman Robert Gallaher pressed for the bike paths, but he met resistance from Agriterra attorney Louis Magazzu. Coincidentally, Magazzu also represented Rovagnati.

“And unlike Rovagnati, Mr. Infranco is prepared to pay for the pre-treatment, which is a significant expense,” Magazzu said. “I mean, the whole reason that deal fell apart was because the expense of the pre-treatment. He was not as averse to it, because he does that already in Bridgeton.

“You know, I think that, given there’s no sidewalks now, given that you’re in an industrial park area, and given that we’re spending a significant amount of money on the pre-treatment that makes the project work, that could probably otherwise go to sidewalks if we didn’t have to do that, I think it really is a hardship to my client,” Magazzu said. “And it’s not consistent with the rest of the area.”

The compromise was to allow the city, at some point in the park’s future development, to require bike paths and sidewalks with costs shared among companies located there.

“I’m fine with that,” Gallaher said. “And let’s be real clear. We greatly appreciate this project coming to the city of Millville. We look forward to the economics that it provides for us. The jobs it brings. … But we’ve got to balance what we’re building with the quality of life for people.”

Thomas Maffei, an engineer for Agriterra, said the plant will have a capacity to use about 500,000 gallons of water a day. He estimated its actual use to start will be about 40,000 gallons daily, with a similar wastewater discharge daily.

City Planning Director Samantha Silvers said the city is comfortable that the pre-treatment component is sufficient.

Maffei said about 14 acres of the 44-acre parcel will be built on in this project.

Joe Smith is a N.E. Philly native transplanted to South Jersey more than 30 years ago. `In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.’ He is a former editor and current senior staff writer at The Daily Journal in Vineland. Have a news tip? Reach out at (856) 563-5252 or [email protected] or follow me on Twitter, @jpsmith-dj. Help support local journalism with a subscription.

This article originally appeared on Vineland Daily Journal: Italian foods maker approved for facility at Millville industrial park

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